Of course, any high-functioning, verbal autist such as myself can tell you that this is not what autism means at all. Stephen King would have needed to research the condition himself in order for Wendy to consider the possibility that Danny Torrance – the child with “The Shining” – may be autistic. This would have been difficult back when the book was written and published, because nobody really understood autism or what it means.
Autism is difficult to explain; it is a different experience for every person on the spectrum. While some children and adults with autism display facial features and body language that tell the world that they are “special needs” in some way (my son is one such young adult) there is no “Face Of Autism”. Many of us look perfectly “normal”, for certain values of normal.
The common misconception is, obviously, that people with autism are dullards with dulled senses and perceptions. If this is the case, could somebody logically explain away the likes of Einstein? Some of the most talented and influential people in history were/are autistic.
The senses of an autist are – if anything – heightened. Why else can I detect and be disturbed by sounds that are inaudible to everybody else around me? Why else is my imagination so rich?
The “Dread and white silence” quote is quite pertinent though. When you really read between the lines of it, it is giving a good presentation of the autistic mind. It conjures up images of people trapped inside their own heads, in their own worlds – and for somebody with profound autism (my son, for instance) that is exactly what it is.
This is how I felt when I was a child; I wasn’t real, or other people weren’t real. There was nobody else in the world like me. Nobody understood my logic or the way I saw the world. I truly felt as though I lived in a box that fitted only me; it had clear walls so that I could observe, but I couldn’t break the walls in order to interact. I was closed off from the rest of my peers, and they were aware of it and treated me accordingly. I was somebody to tolerate – even somebody to fear. I wasn’t like them and they were wary of me because of that fact.
I always thought that, if anybody were able to really “get” me, it would be Spock or K-9 because they were both such literal, logical beings (assuming that K-9 is sentient, which he has always been portrayed to be). I derive great pleasure from science fiction and I have always been able to see reflections of myself in The Doctor, with the various eccentricities in each different regeneration. The scientist at Area 51 in Independence Day (Brent Spiner) and Data from Star Trek TNG (also played by Brent Spiner) are just two more characters that I can identify with. One is enthusiastic to the point of mania, the other is a cold machine without emotions and with little understanding of human behaviour. Both very much autistic traits, and often traits that can be simultaneously displayed by just one person.
While the term “white silence” can certainly be applied to autism, it is only one aspect of a multi-faceted condition which can be rewarding, interesting, frustrating… and beautiful.
Yes, I said it. My brain is beautiful. Every autistic brain is beautiful. Embrace that neurological wonder that is your complex, individual brain and revel in it!
Your autism does not neccessarily make you disabled. It makes you unique and wonderful.